Case Study to show how a primary school can implement Forest Schools sessions into their settings:
Clients name and details: North Wingfield Infant School, Chesterfield
Project description including project aim/purpose
To develop communication Skills in Class One children across a number of Primary Schools in the cluster. We were contracted by the school to run a number of Seasonal week projects for both North Wingfield and the Schools in the cluster. These ran for one week each term and a different school would access the programme on each of the 5 days.
Each of the projects had a direct curriculum emphasis and this was developed in close association with the Advanced Skills Teacher who has overall responsibility for Citizenship within the primary schools cluster. Woods local to most primary schools were used in agreement with Countryside department.
A number of week projects.
Approx. 30 children each day of the project. Ages 5/6 years Year 1 Key Stage 1. The primary schools in this cluster tend to be from areas that were in the past mining communities and as such re developing the local economy.
Many children had taken their parents back to the site to show what they had been doing.
Paul has applied to the LEA in order that they financially support a partnership between the Cluster group, Paul and Archimedes in order to provide Forest Schools for up to 6 projects in the region next financial Year.
This will mean that up to 36 children will receive the benefits of the Archimedes Forest School approach in the area. Paul will have confirmation of this in October ready for the projects to start in April 2005.
Any interesting/unique facts about the project
The advanced Skills teacher Paul Scragg originally came across the concept of Forest School at an Outdoor Play conference held at Losehill Hall. He went about promoting the concept within his cluster groups of schools and secured funding to provide taster sessions for all the schools in his area. Once this had taken place and support though positive feedback had been received Paul applied via his AST training budget to Complete the Forest School Practitioner Award with Archimedes Training. Paul then, through the developing Partnership approach applied to the LEA to get support in order to set up the first ongoing Forest School in Derbyshire.
He has received this support and Archimedes and Paul ran a 10 day project in May and June 2004 in which Paul could develop his teaching strategies and design programmes and mirror experienced staff from Archimedes. He has now completed his Award and received funding though BT in order to develop the project in his school.
The Cluster also has a support unit associated with it to which a young person, now permanently excluded from school attends. This young person attended a previous Archimedes Forest School programme funded though the Chesterfield Children’s Fund. He requested to continue as it was the ‘best thing he had ever done’ A member of staff from this support unit has now been trained through Archimedes and as a part of his portfolio is required to take part in 6 F/s sessions. He contacted Paul and their unit, through its own funds is supporting Paul’s Year one Forest School though providing for the Mini bus expenses.
The wheel is turning and Forest School is becoming a significant part of the lives of children in this part of Chesterfield.
Barrowhill and Poolsbrook Primary Schools commissioned the project in January 2005.
• To encourage curiosity
• To encourage exploration and use of all the senses
• To empower children in the natural environment
• To increase cooperation with peers
• To encourage spatial awareness and motor development
• Reviewing and recognition of own achievements
It was expected that through a regular chance to experience the forest environment and explore with their peer group, the children would develop a keener sense of their own physical and problem solving abilities. They would be gaining knowledge of their limitations and also their possibilities whilst developing closer relationships with the other children in the group and working with a range of different people. It was also hoped that the positive experience they would gain from being outdoors once a week in a stimulating environment would help to further their progress in the classroom with curriculum based tasks and activities.
It ran one day a week from April 2005 to July 2005 for a total of 14 weeks with every session spent in the forest. In addition there was one introductory session held indoors with the group at school before visiting the forest. The sessions ran from 9:30am to 12:30 midday and from 12:45 to 2:30pm. One school came in the morning and the other in the afternoon. The morning group also ate their lunch outdoors in the wood.
Number and ages/background of children involved
All of the young people on the project were from the same class within school and from a range of academic ability. The class was a mix of children from Y2 and Y3. They ranged between the ages of 6 and 8 years. Both of the schools are based in ex mining communities with restricted alternative employment and considered as economically deprived.
Parents were very enthusiastic when they came out on a visit with their children. Many were keen to return and enquired about doing more projects of this kind.
Any interesting/unique facts about the project
Teachers have remarked on improvements back at school and increase in compliance with written tasks and greater acceptance and motivation in other curriculum subjects using the forest experience as a hook to hang the activities off
A number of children were highlighted as having exhibited unusual or out of character behaviour over the course of the project. These changes were always considered to be positive.
They ranged from one child who was very intimidated if asked to speak in front of the class- volunteering to explain the rules of a game to the group and visiting children from other classes and doing a very good job to another child who was reluctant to engage in the classroom and also reluctant to do any physical activity.
He became extremely motivated both in the woodland and back at school, he played with a number of different members in the class and was to be seen running up and down the hill shouting with enjoyment and constantly requesting to play hide and seek.
The Future / Recommendation
It would be wonderful to continue this project for longer and if possible to give these children a constant input up to the end of primary school age, providing transition support as they move up to secondary school. This would have the potential to provide them with an incredibly strong foundation of confidence and high self-esteem to support them in to the first years of secondary school and increase their chances of a successful school career from the age of 11 to 16/18.
A number of the members of staff involved from both schools have stated an interest to train as Forest School Practitioners and the local LEA has been in touch with Archimedes Training Ltd about providing training to the cluster group of schools. This will ensure a longevity for the projects by moving the leaders resource to within the schools cutting the costs of projects and thus ensuring a higher rate of access and uptake by young people in the area.
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